Reply To: California Dreams origins.

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rasz_pl
Participant
#3805

Im glad you liked a little background. Some more for flavor, plus translation of an article about PZ Karen.

Secret armored limousine, now in a car museum: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fmoto.pl%2FMotoPL%2F1%2C88389%2C12784767%2Cedward-gierek-i-jego-cadillac.html

Life in Poland under Russian occupation https://culture.pl/en/article/the-communist-regime-in-poland-in-10-astonishing-pictures

Round table discussions and first semi free elections https://dsh.waw.pl/en/2855-krzysztof-miller-1989,exhi
Elections happened on June 4 1989, you might remember this date due to another big event that day
https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/can-europe-make-it/from-china-to-poland-lessons-from-june-4-1989/ (300-10000 civilian victims depending on sources)
It wasnt entirely out of the question for Poland in 1989 to share Chinese students fate, Russia already had one Tienanmen square massacre under its belt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Pact_invasion_of_Czechoslovakia (137 civilians killed)
In a twist of irony China condemned it at the time. 1968 Eastern Bloc army intervention in Czechoslovakia started with “little green men” occupying Ruzyne International Airport, something Russia would repeat in 2014 taking over Simferopol International Airport before invading Ukraine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_green_men_(Ukrainian_crisis)

Capital of Poland, Warsaw
April 1989 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HawLIrpBpVg
July 1989 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APbwEtMYd4w Tram-spotting video ­čÖé but shows a lot of contemporary cars.
Picture of average Warsaw street 1991 https://api.culture.pl/sites/default/files/styles/1920_auto/public/2019-06/chmielna_warszawa_rutkowskiego_pap.jpg

Cars of Poland 1989, domestics
Fiat 125p 1967-1991 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polski_Fiat_125p might look like Fiat 125, but internals were from 10 year older predecessor
Fiat 126p 1973-2000 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_126#Polski_Fiat_126p
Polonez 1978-2002 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FSO_Polonez Fiat 125p internals with new chassis

For reference Fiat 125p price oscillated around 60 to 120 monthly wages in 1986.

Quality: https://histmag.org/Rynek-motoryzacyjny-w-Polsce-1980-1989-cz.-1.-Co-jezdzilo-po-polskich-drogach-7965
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There were also extreme cases. Some of them were so sloppy that they prevented safe participation in road traffic. One of the readers of “Motor” received the FSO 1500, in which a factory defect in the body made its driving almost impossible. In the TV program “Kram”, aired on October 12, 1986, an interview was conducted with a man who found 41 defects in a new car he had bought. After consulting with an expert, it was found that there were 45 of them. There was an opinion that in order to drive the new Polonaise without any problems, it was necessary to invest 100,000 zlotys in its renovation (~10% of total value). These cars, however, passed the zero inspection without any problems. The sentence of one of the engineers working at FSM can be considered the best justification for this: “People will buy any car”
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desirable Soviet Block imports
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wartburg_353
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dacia_1300
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zastava_Skala
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_120
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant_601
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VAZ-2106

It will come as no surprise, if you read my first post, that you couldnt just waltz into an Auto Salon and buy a car. You needed Ration Stamps! https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=pl&u=https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reglamentacja_towar%C3%B3w_w_PRL received after waiting 5-10 years in queue while paying installments, or as a political reward / work bonus (strategic fields like miners, ship builders, foundry workers, olympic winers, high ranking party officials, directors of state run companies, security apparatus, diplomats etc). Once again Pewex offered western imports (Opel Senator, Ford Taunus, Volvo 244, Citroen CX) provided you paid using _illegal to own_ Dollars/Marks/Pounds, but prices approached astronomical levels of 300-500 average salaries (1986 ~30 USD). There was black market alternative, with 4 year old used cars commanding above new sticker price due to limited supply and rationing. Western cars sold for double their western walue.
So you managed to buy a car, want to take it for a spin? Not so fast Hot Rod! Fuel sale is regulated and limited, you need Fuel Stamps!

Polish computer press scans https://stare.e-gry.net/czasopisma
Bajtek is the oldest one https://stare.e-gry.net/czasopisma/bajtek
Top Secret was Bajteks game dedicated spinoff https://stare.e-gry.net/czasopisma/top-secret
First issue, January 1990, has article about P.Z. Karen on page 4. Digital remaster of original magazine https://www.t2e.pl/www/files/2017-10-17/topsecret_redux_1-1990_small-t2e.pl.pdf

English Translation. Half google, half me fixing butchered translation:
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Computer games – one of the most profitable software markets. Sales in hundreds of thousands of copies bringing manufacturers huge profits from the first days of existence, i.e. from the turn of sixties and seventies.

“The engines howled at full speed. Maverick machine tumbled down in a hellish twist. G-forces left the lieutenant breathless, but not for a second did he forget about two Migs 23 “Foxbat” perched on his tail. A moment more and the F-14 will climb up. He will catch enemies from behind and then you just need to press the trigger to send two Sidewinder rockets to their destinations. Don’t hesitate! Play Top Gun!”

These ads encourage you to buy. Advertising campaigns cost millions, but the income is huge. There are also people in Poland who decided to earn money from computer games. In Bajtek we wrote about “M├│zgprocesor”, a game from Computer Adventure Studio, we mentioned “Robbo”, we’ll be discussing “Fred”. We know work is underway to implement further ideas.

However, only professionals can achieve significant success. The most serious game producer in Poland is Karen company. For several years it has been implementing orders for major American companies and creating own programs. Karen writes for Amiga and IBM.

Over the past six years, Karen has developed over 50 commissioned games for partners such as Activision, California Dreams, Electronic Arts, and Strategic Simulations Inc.

The first success was the conversion of the game “Realms of Impossibility”, which in 1986 received President of Electronic Arts Best product Award. Three programs developed by the Vistula River this year are archiving success in USA: BlockOut, Street Rod and Tunnels of Armageddon, sold by California Dreams.

BlockOut is an evolution of the popular Tetris. The author, Aleksander Ustaszewski, created wonderful three-dimensional graphics, trying to make the most out of computer animation capabilities.

While BlockOut was appreciated mainly by professionals, Street Rod gained wide recognition. Authors of the game skillfully took advantage of the American sentiment for cars from the turn of the 1950s and 1960s. Those crazy years of rock and roll, Elvis Presley and Drive-in theaters. The era that has not yet tasted Vietnam, the hippie movement, LSD and the Black Panthers – things that permanently changed American cultural landscape. Street Rod is a return to simpler times, long gone years.

Karen’s latest product is the game “Tunnels of Armageddon”. Great graphics are the main advantage here. The idea is also original – a lonely fighter moving in a maze of tunnels.

These three games have earned the company a good reputation among American partners leading to new opportunities. At the moment Karen is working on five new games that will appear on market overseas at the end of this year. Will they be a success?

Let’s remember that not every good game can be successful. There are very good ideas that did not reach intended target audience due to lack of marketing. There are also weak games, which, thanks to an aggressive advertising campaign manage to sell, but do not satisfy buyers.

Karen’s example testifies to the possibilities of Polish programmers, certifying its A grade status.

Today, production for the domestic market is still not profitable due to non existent legal framework for computer software protection. Nevertheless there are still people in Poland working on games. That’s why we appeal to all interested parties:

If you wrote a game – contact us. We will try to introduce you and your work in “Top Secret”.

Perhaps in a few years we will have a game company we could call “Polish MicroProse”.
Marek Czarkowski
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Surprisingly Karen wasnt good enough for this journalist :o, despite being the only Polish gamedev house publishing internationally at the time, and with quite the success. Plus he didnt know California Dreams was in fact Karens inhouse publishing arm.

Computers:
8-bit Atari and Commodore constituted majority of the market, with Spectrums in the back. Amiga was an absolute top end hardware in Poland around 1989. Cheaper, more popular than PCs, and easily obtainable even before the fall of Iron curtain as long as you had hard cash. The cost was ~5-10 salaries, C64 was 1-3. PCs were rare and crazy expensive. Bare XT cost almost twice as much as A500. 1989 salary was ~100 DM using black market exchange rate. 1990 was the year Russian occupation of Poland officially ended, salary doubled. Possesion of western currency finally became legal. 1991 salary went up to 300 DM, and so on. By 1994 PCs started taking over from Amiga with around half of the games covered in magazines being strictly PC DOS.